I am a self-confessed chilli addict!

I eat chilli in just about everything, yes, even chocolate and ice cream!

At this time of year the plants start flourishing and it’s time to preserve some of these flavours.

Chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce always has a use in my home and my friends and family always appreciate a gift jar.

Easy to make….

These are such easy recipes to make as you need no special equipment other than a food processor and a good saucepan made from a non-reactive material such as stainless steel or enamel.


And of course, when handling chillies this use of gloves is recommended. After cutting up some chillies last week, and several sessions of hand washing and sanitising during the day I was surprised when my eyes burned later when I washed my face. Please be careful!

You can discard every chilli seed, especially if you want a milder jam or sauce, but I like leaving a few behind as it gives a feeling of home-made imperfection. If I have small chillies, especially the little hot ones, I pierce them and pop a few whole chillies into the pan. You can remove them or add them to the jars.

The main difference

between sweet chilli sauce and jam is that the sauce is thick and syrupy where the jam has a soft set. This ‘set’ is achieved with pectin which occurs naturally in some fruits like quinces, apples and lemons. In many countries you can buy ‘jam sugar’ which has a commercially produced pectin in the correct proportion to the sugar. In South Africa you buy pectin powder at your pharmacy and add 3g powder to 500ml sugar.

In Europe and the UK you can also buy sachets of pectin to add to the mixture. When I visit these countries it’s one of the items I ship back with me. With our heritage of jam making in South Africa one would think that a market exists for this here!

Chilli jam is delicious with cheese. It is also excellent with poultry or meats …. Think chutney!

I add spoonfuls of the jam or sauce to balance the flavour of curries, stir fries or add a glaze to barbequed or roasted meats. Or pop some onto your avo toast, dip your toasted cheese sandwich or put a dollop on your hamburger!

It’s a must in the grocery cupboard, but try to make your own as it has the depth of flavour you do not get in the commercial varieties.

Recipe: Sweet Chilli Jam or Sauce